The Best Way to Store Cilantro to Prevent Sad, Slimy Leaves

Say goodbye to brown, wilted leaves.

September  9, 2021
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Cilantro, parsley, basil, and other leafy herbs can spoil quickly if they’re not stored properly. Brown, wilted, and sometimes even watery leaves are a cook’s worst nightmare (you know, alongside cuts and burns, kitchen fires, and burning the holiday roast). Cilantro is an essential herb in so many dishes such as Báhn mì, and especially in Mexican cuisine, too. So what is the best way to store herbs like cilantro to keep the leafy herbs fresh for weeks? Ahead, find four of our team’s tried-and-true tricks for storing cilantro to ensure that the leaves and stems stay fresh.

How to Store Cilantro

Salad Spinner

Everyone’s favorite wedding registry item isn’t just for rinsing greens before making homemade Caesar salad or a colorful WFH lunch. “I recently cleaned a lot of cilantro and stored it in a salad spinner with a bit of water at the bottom and that worked well,” said Food52 food editor Emma Laperruque. Try this method out using our favorite spinner from the Food52shop!

Glass Jars

Assigning editor Rebecca Firkser is a fan of storing a bunch of cilantro in glass jars with a few inches of water and covering them with reusable plastic bags from the grocery store. This method keeps the cilantro fresh for days in the refrigerator. Just be sure to replace and refill the jar with clean water every two to three days.

Ice Cube Trays

A super-easy way to store cilantro so that it stays fresh is by freezing the leaves and stems in ice cube trays. Place one teaspoon of chopped cilantro leaves and stems in each ice cube tray and then fill each section with good-quality olive oil or water. When you want to use cilantro, just pop a cube or two out and let them defrost or melt in a pan. The leaves won’t look as fresh and crisp as if you plucked them straight from the stems but their flavor will be just as pronounced.

Plastic Bags

An easy way to store herbs like cilantro is by wrapping the cilantro stems in a slightly damp paper towel (try our reusable paper towels!)and placing the bundle in a plastic Ziploc bag, which ensures that the cilantro leaves don’t turn brown too quickly. Secure the paper towel with a rubber band to ensure that the herb bundle stays fresh. Admittedly, this is the least eco-friendly method, but it takes up the least amount of space, so if you have a small refrigerator, this may be the best option for you.

What is your favorite method for storing herbs like cilantro? Sound off in the comments below!
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Auj
  • Gizell
  • kmkane123
  • Karen Omo
    Karen Omo
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Former Food52 Staff Editor


Auj October 25, 2021
I realized a few years ago that the trick with cilantro isn't storing it, it's *using* it :) :)
So this is what I do now:
As soon as I get it home, I wash it--put it to soak in a couple changes of water if it's really dirty, or just rinse it--and dry it in the salad spinner (my favorite kitchen tool). I leave it to dry while I put the rest of the groceries away.
When it is still a little damp, I chop it whole--the leaves and about halfway down the stem--just as if I were about to use it, pulling out any yellow or slimy leaves. I store it in the fridge in a small airtight container. I can quickly grab a handful whenever I want. (To top Mexican food, or Thai food, or eggs, or baked potatoes...the possibilities are endless.)
It will keep its flavor for about 4 days. If I haven't used it all, I toss it in my freezer compost bin (look for composting facilities in your area!)
No paper towels, no ziplocks, no food waste.
I lived in Mexico for a year, and the mentality there is that cilantro--like avocado --isn't meant to last. You buy it and top every dish with it that same day.
Another thought for using cilantro instead of storing it is putting it in soups. If you haven't tried it, it's an incredible flavor--I mix a chopped full cup into chili and stew as it's cooking.
Gizell October 22, 2021
I pick out any yellowed, slimy, damaged pieces and cut off ends to tidy up. If I am going to use them within 24 hours I wash and spin in salad spinner and prep to use by spreading them out again on a long enough strip of paper towels so that I can loosely roll up the paper towel, jelly roll style absorbing any remaining water and then place in a large enough plastic bag - usually turn the bag I put them in at the grocery inside out so it's dry, close the bag with a twist tie leaving the air in the bag then stand it up on the fridge door so nothing can smash the bag. If I am not going to use them quickly, I do the same without washing them first. They keep quite awhile when moisture is minimized
kmkane123 October 22, 2021
I agree with Debbie Meyer Green Bags. They remove the off gasses from fruits, vegetables and yes, cilantro. They keep produce fresh for up to ten days. Yes, I said TEN days!!!! :)
Karen O. October 21, 2021
I trim the cilantro, take yellow leaves out, clean in a salad spinner with cold water a couple of times, spin it dry. Then i place it in a large ziplock bag that I make sure has a lot of air in it to keep it from getting bruised. Has lasted up to a full week. Just make sure you don’t put it in the fridge somewhere where it might be too cold.
Beth October 21, 2021
OXO makes an herb keeper that works very well, although it does take up a bit of real estate in the refrigerator.
Diva October 21, 2021
"Debbie Meyer Green Bags" is a great trick to know. (Amazon).Place over DRY cilantro with fresh cut to stems and store in glass of H2O with green bag over the top. They absorb the ethylene oxide given off from foods that cause ripening/spoiling.
Marycu49 September 16, 2021
I use the fabric bags you sell for cilantro. I take a bunch of cilantro, run it under cold water, shake it hard, then put it in the moistened fabric bag in the drawer of my fridge. I’ve had it last two weeks and looks like new.
marydtoombs September 16, 2021
In my experience, cilantro wilts and gets slimy when water (droplets) is on it so I rinse the bunch, lop of some stem, twirl it well in a spinner, then pack the dry bunch in a glass or plastic container lined w paper towel, pop the lid on and it stays good and ready for quite awhile. Trick is to dry it well before closing it up and store in the fridge.
Mariond. September 11, 2021
I wash under cold tap water, dry by shaking it gently, and store with the 2nd method (glass jar + plastic bag). It saved me dozens of bunches or fresh herbs
Vivian September 16, 2021
I do the same, only I try to buy cilantro with roots intact and before placing the bunch in the glass jar/vase, I loosely wrap the top leaves with some paper towel, to catch any condensation that may develop during storage and then place a ziploc bag over the whole thing to store in the front section of my fridge.
Steve September 9, 2021
First, I fill the sink with water and ice cubes to get a darn-cold ice water bath. Then I trim to bottom stem end of the cilantro a bit, put it in the basket of a salad spinner, and dunk it three or four times in the ice water to rinse it and get it clean of small bits. Then I spin the cilantro to remove most of the water.

Second, I sort and trim the cilantro. A stem at a time. Takes about 15 minutes. Anything that is wilty gets tossed. Anything too woody gets trimmed away. I scissor-cut around broken stems so that all the remaining cuts are sharp. Cilantro is cheap enough that I can buy more than I might need and so that I can be picky.

Finally, I put the cilantro in a plastic general purpose baggie (like a bread bag) and keep it unclosed in the vegetable drawer so air can circulate. It will keep over a week.

Last week, I began trying a used but cleaned small plastic spinach box rather than a plastic bag. I keep it in the vegetable drawer with the lid ajar so air can circulate.
[email protected] September 19, 2021
All for $1.69 bunch of cilantro. That’s valuing your time at about $5/hour. In all candor, I do likewise.
Steve September 19, 2021
Hah! Right? It certainly doesn't seem to make money sense. For me, maybe it's satisfaction... the same satisfaction I get from a good mise or from having good tools when I'm cooking. Or even from picking WHICH $1.69 bunch of cilantro has my name on it in the grocery store!

When I was a kid and my Dad and I were fishing, my Dad would open beer bottles with a pair of diagonal cutters... Then he would look at me with a wry smile and say, "Steve, you have to know how to handle your tools." To this day, I find myself hearing his voice in my head when I'm doing things like cooking.
[email protected] September 19, 2021
Satisfaction and efficiency run on different tracks. Glad I put a smile on your face.
Eileen October 21, 2021
It's not only about the money. It's about NOT WASTING FOOD.

US Dept. of Agriculture estimates Americans waste 30-40% of the food produced. That's hard on the planet.